One of my favourite birthday cakes as a child was a swimming pool cake with bright blue jelly for water. It had those chocolate-covered biscuit fingers for the pool fence, a licorice and musk stick ladder, jelly lolly rings for the pool toys and little plastic dollhouse babies for the swimmers. I don’t even remember if it was my birthday or my sister’s (think it was mine) but I do remember thinking it was the best cake I’d ever seen. Thank you, Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book (did any Aussie household not have this book in the 90s?)! And thanks to my mum, of course.
Now, jelly doesn’t always bring back fond memories; as a child, it was the food I ate when I was home from school with a tummy bug or had a terribly sore throat; in primary school, it was the horrible, hard cubes you got at school camps after eating horrible, hard slabs of mass-produced lasagne; in my early teens, it was the dessert I ate with a plastic spoon after having my braces tightened.
But one day, I want it to be all those things for my kids too – good and bad. And just quietly, I’d really love to try vodka jelly shots some time.
But having turned to vegetarianism in my later teens, jelly was another food that got wiped from my diet and I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate some. So when I was in Holland & Barrett the other day and stumbled upon some vegetarian jelly crystals by Just Wholefoods and they were on offer at ‘Buy One, Get One Half Price’, I couldn’t resist. I picked up raspberry and strawberry flavours and they set me back less than £1.50 combinbed. Score!
The gelatine-less jelly is made exactly like regular jelly (for anyone who was a deprived child – just add boiling water, stir until dissolved, then stick in the fridge to set) but unlike regular jelly, it sets super fast! No more fingerprints all over the surface of the jelly from little fingers checking if it’s done every five minutes. In fact, this was set before it had even completely cooled! I’d say it had been in the fridge for just over an hour.
I left it a little longer, until it had cooled because eating warm jelly just felt… unnatural. But then I ate it with strawberry frozen yoghurt, which was amazing! On a side note, I highly recommend yoomoo frozen yoghurt – a bit pricey but I got it on sale and it was totally worth it.
I barely remember what ‘real’ jelly tastes like, so it’s hard for me to compare directly. This jelly was less sweet than I remember jelly being, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. If you want the flavour to be a little more intense, maybe just add a little less water. The jelly was also slightly less ‘squishy’ than I expected but it wasn’t horrible school camp hard.
Overall, I did enjoy it but it’s not something that I’d eat all the time. I do still have the strawberry packet left but think I’m going to save it for my next sore throat…